Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | May 27, 2016

An Iris Journey

Many years ago, my dear friend, Sally, took me to her mother’s home.  Large open land with irises around the house.  Her mother gladly gave me a couple of rhizomes and I happily planted my first irises at our first home.  This little iris multiplied easily and I took them with me to our second home.  When we moved out of Missouri and headed to IL, I once again, brought the irises with me.  Here, they have had several different locations around the house, have battled the dreaded iris borer and continued to multiply. Over the 20+ years we have been here, I have shared them with many a neighbor, friend and family, including our son, Patrick.

To my surprise, two years ago, I lost all my irises.  Not really sure why, had multiple varieties, but they were all gone.  The deep purples, from my mother, a gorgeous sunset gold cultivar, a batik blue and white, pure whites, all disappeared.  It made no sense.


Happily, my son, came to the rescue.  My “Sally” iris is back!  This little iris, is not available in any catalog.  It is very old fashioned with a delightful fragrance even if its colors are not spectacular.


The tall stately, Iris germanica, is well worth putting in your garden.  The texture and shape of its sword like leaves are great back drops once it stops blooming.  The variegated varieties add another element of color.  Now that my gold and green leafed cultivar is blooming, I have to tell you, its has an amazing grape fragrance.

I remove the spent flower stalk and use an insecticide to fight the borer.  Nasty creatures will bite you if you hold them in your hand, as my daughter, Carolyn found out when she was little.  The leaves are pruned in August to a fan shape and that is the best time to dig and share.

I am glad that Patrick did not wait till Aug. to dig this little guy up for me.  Welcome home!



Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | March 17, 2014

Don’t Hesitate!

The roses are going to need a hard pruning due to all the cold.  If you were out today, like I was, you noticed how black the rose canes are.  Winter was pretty harsh on these babies.  Not to worry, the snow protected the roots, so pruning down just 4 inches from the ground (or in some cases, snow level) won’t hurt them a bit.  Just remember to fertilize in April.

Even though it was cold today, the sun was shining, calling me to grab my pruners.  I did cut down my fall blooming raspberries and pruned the blackberries.  Sedum, perennial hibiscus, endless summer hydrangea and some perennial grasses were also laid low.  No yard waste pick up yet, so everything is laying right were I cut them.  Which means raking is in my near future.

A little bit each day, we can do this.                      


An Old Irish Blessing
May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!


Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | March 14, 2014

It is coming!

Wow, who would have believed winter holding on so tightly.  The robins are here telling us, not to lose hope.

The tulips are pushing up.  The Helleborus – our Lenten roses – are showing their flowers.  The snow is melting and the sun is shining.  Green is the color of hope.  I see green, do you?Shamrocks

green beer

In the past I have said, on St. Patrick’s day, grab your green beer and pruners and go outside!  Its time to prune.”        I came up with this idea because there is a lot of pruning that should be done at the end of winter.  I used to sell roses at the retail nurseries.  I would give seminars and talk about the proper way to prune them and recommend to do the pruning when forsythia was in bloom.  That beautiful yellow shrub is not as well-known as I thought.  I decided an easier way to remember when to prune the roses was the green beer trick.  It worked.  Many customers would laughingly tell me, they would remember my suggestion and go prune.

Of course, the snow may prevent you getting all the way down to 5-6 inches, but snow or not it is still a good time to get out there and get some work done.  Use your bypass pruners.

45 degree angled cuts please

45 degree angled cuts please

Don't be afraid to cut them back.

Don’t be afraid to cut them back

Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | April 10, 2013

April Showers Bring May Flowers

I don’t know about you, but I have been grateful for the cooler weather.  Last year, spring happened so fast, there was no time to correctly prune roses, summer flowering shrubs and I was crazy busy trying to help everyone out.  If you haven’t pruned your roses yet, get to it!  All ornamental grasses should be cut to 4-6 inches from the ground.  Prune hard the burning bush, barberries and privets that are too big for their location.  Tip prune evergreens to shape.  Cut the old growth from perennials off.  Don’t prune spring flowering shrubs until they are done blooming.

You still have time to plant cool season vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, radishes, and snow peas. And, while you are getting down and dirty, divide those hostas, sedum, daylilies, black-eyed susans, asters, coneflower and any other summer/fall blooming perennials as soon as you see new growth. PICT0042 (6)

All this rain has been wonderful.  A drought is still being predicted for this year though. Rake up all the dead leaves around your plants now.  Either run them through the chipper/shredder or bag it.  You should put down fresh mulch.  Mulching is important.  You need at least one inch around the perennials, 2 inches around shrubs and 4 inches deep around trees.  It may seem like a lot, but the purpose is to retain moisture, not just look good.

The cooler weather is perfect for repairing lawn problems and attacking the weeds.  It is much easier to spend a little time in the garden now, pulling the weeds while they are small and the soil moist, than it is later when its dry and the roots are deeper.  You should get your lawn mower blades sharpened now, too.

There’s lots to do in April.  I like to tease and say ‘You’re a fool if you don’t fertilize in April.”  I should add cleaning up, pruning and mulching to that!  Enjoy the cool weather and plant something that will make you smile this summer!

Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | August 13, 2012

Finally…a nice soaking rain

What a crazy summer this has been.  I have been discouraging any plantings until now.  The heat and lack of water was a sure recipe for failure unless you had a good sprinkling system.  I spent several days this summer correcting the sprays on those systems.  Most are set up for the lawn.  I do not encourage watering the lawn.  It is more costly to replace trees and shrubs, especially old and established ones.  The triple whammy of not enough water from last winter, spring and this summer have made many trees and shrubs stressed and begging for water.

Todays’ steady drizzle was fabulous.  Before the kids head back to school, walk through your garden and see what needs tweaking.  Now is a good time to replace or add.  Once school starts again, you will be able to get outside and water when needed.  Remember, plants need six weeks to get their roots established. 

While you are walking around, keep your pruners in hand.  Deadheading is a great way to clean things up and many perennials and roses will still rebloom before winter hits.  Labor day is fast approaching, last chance to fertilize those roses!

Time to also start thinking about the plants that you will be moving back into the house.  Do they need to be repotted?  Were they located in the garden and possibly have bugs in them?  You might want to consider a systemic that will help get rid of the extra unwanted guests. 

Bulb planting is around the corner.  Start thinking where you want that little sping sparkle tht gets you smiling each



Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | March 21, 2012


Wow, the winter was mild alright.  So far, I have seen the herb, rosemary, still very much alive and growing.  A butterfly bush – over 4 feet tall.  Nikko Blue hydrangeas budding strong and Endless summer hydrangeas that have not died to the ground!  But more importantly, start watering!

The small amount of snow we received this winter was clearly not enough.  Most of those plants normally die to the ground or as in the case of the herb, dies completely.

The lack of rain and now the heat, means our gardens are going to be stressed out soon!  All the growth you see now, comes from the root system of stored energy.  Its being depleted fast.  Do your garden a favor – fertilize and water.

I know I usually say, ‘Remember to fertilize in April or you’re a fool’.  I don’t think we should wait til April.  Water today at the very least.  The weekend weather is still only 50% and that is what it has been off and on the last week.

And if you haven’t pruned those roses – at least cut them back by half ASAP!

Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | July 9, 2011


Noticed my hydrangea is being chewed.  Time to reapply an insecticide/fertilizer.  Japanese beetles will be on the prowl.  Remember to NOT use the traps that are sold everywhere.  They only bring more beetles to your yard and do more damage.

If you can handle knocking the beetles off your plants,  let them drop into a bucket that has about an inch or two of water and a squirt of dishwashing detergent in it.  The beetles will drop downward and drown in the soapy water.  I have done this in the early evening after getting home from work.  Nowadays I am too tired and prefer to let the systemic insecticides do their thing.  Drives me crazy to see the beetles on my yellow knockout roses.  They seem to like them better than the red.  (Another reason why I always recommend the red knockouts.)

Some holes are good.  The open spaces between the plants is important for air circulation and growth.  Remember when planting to think of the mature size and space out the plants so when they have reached maturity the edges touch each other.   Mulch in-between the plants to keep down weeds.  In the years to come the full size plants will shade out new weeds.

We’ve been tweaking the gardens, moving plants and adjusting.  Tips for you – water the plants before you move them, the roots are happier.   When you dig the hole for the new location, fill it with water before you put the plant in it.  Let it drain, plant, water again and mulch.  Even with the heat, if you keep the plant hydrated, you can successfully transplant anytime.

Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | June 27, 2011

Summer is here!

The rains have been intense this spring.  Don’t let that stop you from putting down the mulch.  It doesn’t take long for the top few inches of soil to dry out.

Rain barrels are showing up everywhere.  I see more families are using them.  Now if we can just get more people to request an ‘artist’ to personalize their rain barrel.

Stephanie has done three of our six barrels.  My Gardening Angels logo, an Irish Live Laugh Love, and Peter Rabbit in the garden.  Any suggestions for the remaining three?

Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | May 25, 2011

Cool spring…big hostas

With all the rain we have had, plus the cooler weather, the hostas are extremely happy!  I am too, as I just purchased the ‘Empress Wu’ hosta.  It has a reputation for being one of the largest, with plain green leaves.  Not fancy color, but sheer size, will make it stunning.  I hope!                 

Now is a good time to get that mulch ordered.  By bag or by cubic yard, the sooner you get the mulch down the better.  The perennials are still relatively small, the weeds are easy to pull, and the moisture will retained longer.

The cooler weather kept a number of us away from the garden centers.  Well get going and pick up your vegetable plants and start looking at the perennials.  June is the perennial month.  As the nurseries load up, many will begin having moderate sales.

Posted by: Your Personal Garden Coach Lynda | May 20, 2011

While digging away…

As I am working in the various gardens, I keep thinking of tips I should share.  Like this new tool I picked up at Meijer.  I love it!  Best tool ever!  Big Grip Multi-Purpose Planting Tool made by Fiskars. “Four tools in one. Slices through sod, digs out dandelions, carves through bags of soil, transports and transplants. The big grip is sturdy and comfortable, giving you rapier-like control. The heat-treated blade is sturdy enough to withstand a beating.”  Although, somehow Pat broke the first one I bought.  Fortunately, this mighty tool is less than $9 and I found it at Meijer.

Better hurry over to Home Depot and buy some Miracle-Gro Shake ‘n Feed Continuous Release Bloom Booster Flower.  It’s the best with a 10-16-10 fertilizing ratio and it lasts for three months!  Hard to find later in the summer so buy two!

Iris is showing signs of the dang iris borer.  😦           Need to apply a systemic insecticide asap, before the stupid larvae grow any bigger.  Nasty critter. They bite humans too!

So, what’s happening in your garden?

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